Despite setback, N.J. panel will keep investigating Christie bridge scandal
April 10th, 2014
05:44 PM ET
6 months ago

Despite setback, N.J. panel will keep investigating Christie bridge scandal

(CNN) – The state legislative committee investigating the role members of Gov. Chris Christie’s administration played in closing down lanes to the George Washington Bridge will continue its work despite being dealt a blow by a local judge.

“We’re going to continue to look at bringing people in for testimony and we’ll continue to work on obtaining other documents,” said Assemblyman John Wisniewksi, the Democratic co-chair of the Select Committee on Investigation, said on Thursday.

A day earlier, Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson dismissed the panel’s complaints that Christie's ex-campaign manager, Bill Stepien, and former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, had not complied with subpoenas requesting documents. The two have invoked their constitutional right to remain silent.

Jacobson wrote in her 98-page decision that the subpoenas were very broad and put their Fifth Amendment rights in jeopardy. Wisniewski believes the committee could still obtain emails and texts from the two former Christie officials.

“It’s important to point out that this is not in any way a roadblock to the work of the committee,” Wisniewksi told CNN. He said they could issue new subpoenas for Kelly and Stepien that are narrower in scope.

Jacobson cleared up another issue, ruling that the committee does have the ability to grant immunity in exchange for handing over requested documents. Doing so, though, could have implications for a federal criminal probe taking place simultaneously.

“We’re not sure whether we want to go down that road,” Wisniewski said.

The committee’s investigators are cooperating with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Newark, according to Wisniewski. “Our counsel [Reid Schar] who is a former assistant U.S. attorney in Illinois, is very familiar with the process that a U.S. attorney must take in this sort of situation. He is advising us on how to proceed without crossing any boundaries that we shouldn’t."

An internal review by outside lawyers hired by Christie’s office cleared him of any wrongdoing.

But critics say the investigation was incomplete. Lawyers did not speak with several people who are said to have played a role in shutting down access lanes to the bridge in Fort Lee.

The resulting four day traffic jam may have been an act of retribution targeting the town’s mayor for not endorsing Christie’s re-election campaign.

Wisniewski said if they don’t receive all of the documents sought by the end of the day Friday they’ll issue a subpoena to the law firm for the information.


Filed under: Chris Christie • New Jersey
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. just saying

    just democrats wasting tens of millions of tax payer money on a total political witch hunt. better than spending their own party money on smear. i guess tax rates in nj can just be raised to pay for this.

    April 10, 2014 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  2. Gary

    Now this is gonna be funny. Watching all the Cons saying these guys can plede the 5th but Lerner can't. I'm surprised it's a judge who rulled this, not Christies lawyers.

    April 10, 2014 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  3. Tampa Tim

    Just – Everything you posted other than nj, relates to the republican witch hunt by Issa at taxpayer expense.

    April 10, 2014 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  4. Chris-E...al

    When they clear C.C. of all wrong doing i hope they change the name to the / Chris Chritie Bridge / where you all will never forget ooook .

    April 10, 2014 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  5. rs

    Clearly this investigation needs the dogged Mr. Darryl Issa to bring those uncooperative Republicans.... oh, never mind.

    April 10, 2014 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  6. rs

    just saying

    just democrats wasting tens of millions of tax payer money on a total political witch hunt. better than spending their own party money on smear. i guess tax rates in nj can just be raised to pay for this.
    ________________________
    The New Jersey bill is a pittance in comparison to what Issa has blown through trying to make anything out of Benghazi, or the IRS fantasies, never mind the great GOP Government Shutdown of 2013.

    April 10, 2014 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  7. don in albuquerque

    just saying

    I really don't think you want to talk about spending millions on political witch hunts. The GOTP is the king grand poobah of this type activity.

    April 10, 2014 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  8. TheObserver

    Strange that people get all bent out of shape about a couple of lane closures, but not about the fact that we just passed Iran and Nigeria on the list of most inequitable economies, more than 25% of ALL American children live BELOW the poverty line, and nearly ALL of the economic recovery made since the beginning of the recession has gone to..... wait for it.... wait for it.... the Top 1%. The same 1% who's businesses were given a bailout a few short years ago by..... wait for it.... wait for it... the TAXPAYERS. Oh yeah and a few decades ago corporate tax revenue accounted for more than one-third of tax revenue. Currently, it's less than one-tenth. Question for everyone... do you think middle-class Americans will continue to blame poor people for all of America's problems, or will they be resourceful and smart enough to find the truth?

    April 10, 2014 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  9. J Anthony

    @just saying: enough hypocrisy. Republicans have blown inordinate amounts of taxpayer $ on nonsense, particularly witch-hunts. They play power-games,, we all buy into it like it's a spectator-sport.. Give it a rest. Try to realize both the parties (not every member, but overall) sold out to the highest bidder, and the Supreme Court legalized it. Its a done deal.

    April 10, 2014 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  10. ja

    He will get a good ole boy pass

    April 10, 2014 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  11. Lizzie

    They have to keep this alive, to distract from all their shortcomings

    April 10, 2014 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  12. Thomas

    @ust saying
    just democrats wasting tens of millions of tax payer money on a total political witch hunt. better than spending their own party money on smear. i guess tax rates in nj can just be raised to pay for this.
    =======

    Bernie Madoff's lawyers have found Bernie innocent of any wrong doing , they also found no evidence that poor Bernie was aware or involved in any Ponzi scheme ?

    April 11, 2014 05:33 am at 5:33 am |
  13. Marie MD

    @just saying, not as many millions as your boy the car thief/arsonist who is spending more time and money going after situations that have already been closed by all except the ones, like him, who want TV time.
    Throw in the $24B wasted for shutting down the government and do the math.
    BTW – your portly NJ gov had to know and if he didn't he has no business running for president of the US. If he can't control the people outside his office he's going to try to run a country? I doubt it very much.

    April 11, 2014 06:22 am at 6:22 am |